Recent recipient of the number-two spot for the 2017 DownBeat Critics Poll in the category “Rising Star—Tenor Saxophone”, Dayna Stephens has garnered critical acclaim over the years for his playing, compositions and arrangements. DownBeat’s James Hale describes Gratitude, the saxophonist/composer’s eighth release as a leader, as a “highly cinematic listening experience, full of roiling seas and shifting skies.” Brad Faberman cites Dayna as the JazzTimes Editor’s Pick, writing, “His big, warm lines are full of notes and intent but also gusts of wind, bodies of water.” A review from JazzScene Magazine’s Alex W. Rodriguez praises the record’s distinctive personnel: “This album showcases some of today’s finest musicians at the height of their craft, anchored by Stephens’ humble magnetism. The musicians exude a patient, persistent quality in their collective exploration, with the melodies unfolding into searching improvisations throughout.”
Playing with pureness of intention, Dayna admits he’s always searching to find what’s “singable.” That search often results in live improvisations and written compositions that challenge traditional concepts of harmony, pushing phrasing and sending beautiful and unintentional melodies in unlikely directions. Dayna’s soulful lines have resonated through the halls of such internationally renowned venues as the Village Vanguard, Blue Note Jazz Club, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Birdland, Yoshi’s, The Blue Whale, Marians Jazzroom in Switzerland, Blue Note Milano, Philharmonie de Paris, Le Duc des Lombards, Red Rocks and San Francisco Jazz Center.